Nozawa Onsen

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Nozawa Onsen Ski Resort
Nozawa Onsen Ski Resort
Oyu, the most famous onsen in Nozawa Japan
Oyu, the most famous onsen in Nozawa Japan
The village of Nozawa Onsen sits below the ski area
The village of Nozawa Onsen sits below the ski area
The cooking onsen is a cultural hub of Nozawa Onsen
The cooking onsen is a cultural hub of Nozawa Onsen
Nozawa Onsen Ski Resort
Nozawa Onsen Ski Resort
A little steep path heads up to the Yu Walkway to the slopes
A little steep path heads up to the Yu Walkway to the slopes
Sidecountry powder skiing at Nozawa Onsen
Sidecountry powder skiing at Nozawa Onsen
The town of Nozawa Onsen Japan
The town of Nozawa Onsen Japan
The Main Street of Nozawa Onsen has lots of cute eateries
The Main Street of Nozawa Onsen has lots of cute eateries
One of the foot onsen in Nozawa Japan
One of the foot onsen in Nozawa Japan
Views from the near the top of Nozawa Onsen Ski Resort
Views from the near the top of Nozawa Onsen Ski Resort
Nozawa Onsen Japan
Nozawa Onsen Japan
Skiing Nozawa Onsen powder
Skiing Nozawa Onsen powder
The onsen culture is a large part of the heritage of the town
The onsen culture is a large part of the heritage of the town
Nozawa Onsen Japan
Nozawa Onsen Japan
One of many bars in Nozawa Onsen
One of many bars in Nozawa Onsen
Nozawa Onsen Japan
Nozawa Onsen Japan
The snow monkeys are reasonably close to Nozawa
The snow monkeys are reasonably close to Nozawa
Having an onsen is an essential part of your Nozawa ski trip
Having an onsen is an essential part of your Nozawa ski trip
Ski Nozawa Onsen
Ski Nozawa Onsen

Nozawa Onsen

Readers Ratings

Nozawa Onsen

Nozawa Onsen4/535
Nozawa Onsen4 out of 5 based on 35 reviews
  • Recommend
    97%
  • Would Revisit
    97%

Nozawa Onsen Ski Resort Japan

Nozawa Onsen Japan is a hot spring and ski resort village near Nagano. The Nozawa Onsen Ski Resort almost takes a bit of a backseat relative to the charming village that offers an interesting and traditional Japanese experience. The village is famous for the abundance of hot springs that were discovered in the 8th century. Steam rises amongst the bustling narrow cobblestone streets and the traditional ryokan, inns and shops.

The culture of Nozawa Onsen skiing is also historic. Skiing was introduced to Nozawa Japan in 1912 by an Austrian, and it is considered by some to be the birthplace of skiing in Japan.

These days, the Nozawa Onsen Ski Resort is one of the most popular ski resorts in Japan for international travellers due to its diversity of terrain, abundance of snow, its family friendliness, and because English speaking guests are well catered for. What really sets it apart though is the lovely (mostly) traditional village.

Pros and Cons of Nozawa Japan

Pros 
  • The Nozawa Onsen village is a highlight and lots of the buildings have traditional Japanese architecture.
  • There is a good range of Nozawa Onsen accommodation types (ryokan, hotels, pensions, self-contained apartments and houses) to suit a range of budgets.
  • Nozawa has a lot of different onsen.
  • You can visit little temples, and nearby Nagano also offers other cultural experiences.
  • The Nozawa Onsen ski resort is reasonably large (by Japanese standards) so there’s enough variety for a week long experience, and you can also do day trips to other nearby ski resorts such as Madarao and Tangram.
  • It is close to other major Nagano ski resorts so it’s easy to combine with other destination resorts.
  • Nozawa Japan has steep off-piste and side-country terrain, which is a bit of a rarity for Japan.
  • The village has reasonable nightlife (for a Japanese ski resort) and the restaurants and Japanese cuisine are also a highlight.
Cons
  • There is no perfectly located Nozawa Onsen accommodation that is slopeside and also close to the centre of town. You have to compromise on either proximity to the slopes or the hub of town, or both.
  • Nozawa does not have a lot of intermediate terrain.
  • As with the other Honshu ski resorts, the quality of the powder is a fraction heavier than that found in Hokkaido, but it’s still really good. Some of the best off-piste terrain is at lower elevations.
Pro or Con Depending on Your Perspective
  • It is very popular for good reason, and especially from early to mid January, you’ll need to book your trip early. Lots of westerners visit and it’s losing some of its traditional Japanese charm. The upside is that it’s very easy to get by if you don’t speak Japanese.
  • If you’re looking for a luxury western style resort hotel with soft queen/king beds, you won’t find it. There are a small number of deluxe western style apartments or houses, whilst most of the accommodation in Nozawa Onsen consists of hotels and pensions that are delightfully Japanese. Except for the high-end ryokans, don’t expect a room with a full ensuite bathroom. If you don’t want to immerse yourself in the Japanese culture, sleep on the tatami floor with a futon (or two) and beanbag type pillow, eat Japanese food, or bathe nude in an onsen with other people, then perhaps go to Niseko instead. Or maybe Canada?!
  • It caters wells for children. Nozawa Onsen is one of only a handful of Japanese ski resorts that can provide group ski lessons in English and child care/babysitting with English speaking staff. There is also a great snow play park for the kids. The only detractor for some families with small children may be that lots of walking (up hills) is required to get around.

Nozawa Onsen Ski and Snowboard Terrain

Nozawa is a stand-alone ski resort that is reasonably large by Japanese ski resort standards, with 19 lifts (including 2 gondolas), 300 hectares of terrain, 50km of slopes, and an impressive vertical drop of 1,085 metres (565-1,650m). Piste runs are equitably distributed for beginner, intermediate and advanced riders, although Nozawa Onsen skiing is best suited to beginner and advanced skiers and boarders.

The Nozawa Onsen ski area is situated on Kenashi-yama which literally translates to "Mount no-hair", yet the mountain is far from bald considering that the Nozawa ski resort is below the tree-line. The ski runs have been cut through the trees with many wide groomed runs as well as an abundance of mogul runs.

There is a small amount of off-piste terrain for advanced riders that is kosher, and also a huge expanse of off-piste and sidecountry for true experts with route finding skills. Much of this is officially banned, but you probably won’t get into hot water with the patrollers for going off-piste. Hopefully the only hot water you’ll end up is in the onsen for après ski!

See the Nozawa Ski Resort page for more information on the terrain.

Nozawa Onsen Snow

The sight of all those egg carton shaped runs can make a powder hound howl, but powder hounds shouldn’t despair because the moguls generally don’t have long to form. Nozawa Ski Resort is blessed with over 10 metres of snow fall each season, thanks to its proximity to the Sea of Japan and the precipitation that’s picked up during storms. Nozawa Onsen is a great destination for powder hounds and there are lots of days where the face shots come fast and furious.

Where is Nozawa Japan?

Nozawa Onsen Japan is located in the northern part of the Nagano Prefecture on the Honshu Island. The resort is 46km northeast of the city of Nagano and 249km northwest of Tokyo.

There are a few options to get from the Tokyo airports to Nozawa Onsen including buses with Nagano Snow Shuttle. See the getting to Nozawa Onsen page for more information.

Nozawa Onsen Accommodation

Nozawa Onsen is not a purpose built ski village so thankfully there are no towering resort hotels. The village has lots of ryokans (traditional Japanese hotels), many with their own onsen, as well as minshuku (inns that are a little more rustic). Japanese style rooms with tatami flooring and futon bedding are quite common in Nozawa. Some of the hotels and pensions also have western style rooms, and it’s quite common that rooms don’t have a full ensuite bathroom. Many lodgings have English speaking staff, and there are various lodgings where a little “Engrish” is spoken. This is all part of the fun of being in Japan!

The Nozawa Onsen accommodation options range from budget oriented lodgings up to first class Japanese ryokan with superior facilities, service and dining. There is a small amount of self-contained accommodation.

NB If you are looking for lodging from Xmas through to the end of January, please note that many properties sell out very early. You can look at accommodation availability and rates here.

Activities

Considering the abundance of geothermal activity, the focus for après ski and off-slope activities is the onsens. The town has more than 30 natural hot springs that supply the ryokans as well as the 13 public baths (sotoyu). Boys be sure to do some man-scaping before you arrive! The hottest spring is the Ogama Onsen. With waters bubbling up at about 90 degrees Celsius, the hot spring is used by the locals for cooking vegetables and to entertain the tourists!

Also hot is the Dosijin Fire Festival which is held on the 15th January each year. This festival involves lots of kanpai, fireworks and fire!

See the Nozawa activities page for other options.
Tours That Include Nozawa

Safari (Road Trip) Tours

The Legendary Roadie
HOSTED & GUIDED ROAD TRIP
11 Days | 10 Nights | 8 Days Skiing
Ability: Advanced to Expert
Experience Japan powder like no other on this legendary road trip where you will visit up to 8 resorts in 3 prefectures; Nagano, Gunma & Niigata! Join a tour as a solo traveler, couple or small group. Max 6 spots per tour so get in quickly! Share
Price p/p From price based on twin-share at Hotel Omodaka & Tenjin Lodge for 2025 season.
Base/invoice currency is in JPY in taxes.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
Base/invoice currency is in JPY in taxes.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
USD 3,450
View Details
 Early bird special: 5% off listed priced - book before July 31
Myoko to Hakuba Backcountry
GUIDED LIFT ASSISTED BACKCOUNTRY TOUR
8 Nights | 9 Days
Ability: Advanced to Expert
This lift assisted backcountry tour takes in Myoko, Nozawa Onsen & Hakuba & is ideal for advanced to expert backcountry skiers and split boarders. These 3 areas are known for deep snow & epic tree skiing. Join as a solo, couple or small group; max 8 guests per tour.
Price p/p Price per person based on 2025 tours
USD 4,699
View Details
 
See all Safari (Road Trip) tours that visit Nozawa Onsen here

Single-Base, Multi-Ski-Area Tours

Nagano Powder Chaser
HOSTED & GUIDED SKI & CULTURE PACKAGES
3, 4, 5 & 6 Nights | 2, 3, 4 & 5 Days Skiing/Boarding
Ability: Strong Intermediate to Advanced
Don't let a lack of time, budget or resort knowledge hold you back from a ski/snowboard trip in Nagano this winter. Experience many of Nagano's best ski areas with guides who have an intimate knowledge; based in the culturally rich town of Yudanaka. Tours can be CUSTOMISED for 3 nights or more. Share
Price p/p From price per person based on 3-night stay with 2 days skiing/boarding in a twin share Japanese room with private bathroom at Omodaka. 24/25 season.
Base/invoice currency is in JPY in taxes.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
USD 1,146
View Details
 Early bird - 5% off listed prices - book before July 31
Nagano Ski/Board Progression
SKI / SNOWBOARD GUIDED INSTRUCTION
10 Days | 9 Nights | 8 Skiing | Up to 8 Ski Areas
Ability: Intermediate to Strong Intermediate
Learn to ski and ride deep powder with more confidence or improve your on-piste technique whilst checking out some of Nagano's fabulous ski areas away from the masses of foreigners. In addition to the skiing and snowboarding, experience an area rich in culture and history. Share
Price p/p From price based on per person twin-share room at Omodaka for 2024/25 season.
Base/invoice currency is in JPY in taxes.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
Base/invoice currency is in JPY in taxes.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
USD 3,002
View Details
 Early bird special: 7% off listed prices - book before July 31
Nagano Ski Buffet
GUIDED SKI ADVENTURE (SKIERS ONLY)
10 Days | 9 Nights | 8 Skiing | Up to 8 Ski Areas
Ability: Advanced to Expert
Combine deep untracked powder skiing where few foreigners go, with a rich Japanese cultural experience, traditional Japanese accommodation and authentic Japanese food, and you have the perfect Japanese ski adventure! Share
Price p/p From price based on twin-share Japanese room with bathroom at Omodaka
Base/invoice currency in JPY
Displayed prices may vary slightly to actual due exchange rate fluctuations
Base/invoice currency in JPY
Displayed prices may vary slightly to actual due exchange rate fluctuations
USD 3,002
View Details
 Early bird special: 7% off listed prices - book before July 31
See all Single-Base, Multi-Ski-Area tours that visit Nozawa Onsen here

Backcountry Skiing Tours

Guided Powder Tours
SHIGA KOGEN & SURROUNDING RESORTS
Single & Multi-Day Guiding
Ability: Intermediate to Expert
Explore the off-piste and sidecountry at the massive ski area of Shiga Kogen or another nearby ski area. Guiding is for private groups or group tours are available some days.
Price p/p *based on per person in a private group of 5 for a 5 hour tour for 2024/25 season.
base/invoice currency is Japanese Yen
Displayed rates might vary to actual due to exchange rate fluctuations.
USD 79
View Details
 
See all Backcountry Skiing tours that visit Nozawa Onsen here
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